Date: 29th January 2011 at 10:58pm
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There were no real surprises in the starting line-up for Grimsby Town.
As expected, new signing Rob Duffy took his place up front alongside Alan Connell, whilst Dean Sinclair was recalled to central midfield. Steve Watt and Michael Leary dropped to the bench.

It certainly didn`t take Duffy long to make the perfect start to his Grimsby career. There were just 26 SECONDS on the clock when he controlled a pass from Connell before walloping the ball into the net from 15 yards, giving the Mariners the earliest of leads.

Seemingly fired up by that bright start, and with the strong breeze in their favour, the Mariners were looking to add to the score. Sinclair shot inches past the post, and then Peter Bore hit a rising shot from 30 yards that just cleared the bar.

But Eastbourne were getting over their early shock, and started to enjoy a lot of possession. In particular, Dan Walker was becoming a thorn in the side for Bradley Wood, whilst the big and powerful Damian Spencer was proving to be a handful in the air for Town`s centre back pairing of Darran Kempson and Rob Atkinson.

After Spencer had put a free header over the bar, Serge Makofo made his first real contribution of the game. Following a good run down the right, the home defence were able to stop his cross from reaching Connell. So the Mariners still hadn`t troubled home keeper, Rikki Banks, since the first minute.

In the 28th minute, Atkinson gave away a free kick for a foul on Jamie Taylor just outside the Town box. Steve Masterton`s shot hit the bar and there were shouts for handball in the melee following the rebound, but the referee was having none of it.

Two minutes later, the Sports got a deserved equaliser. Atkinson got ahead of Taylor at the near post to concede a corner. The delivery was headed on by Gary Elphick for Taylor to score from close range.

Ever since the first ten minutes, Grimsby were struggling to get a foothold in the game and only had two worthwhile efforts at goal in the remainder of the half. Connell met a cross from Bore, but his low header from six yards came back off the post. Then, after another run from Bore, this time through the centre, Connell hit a volley from 25 yards that went straight at keeper Banks.

With Grimsby`s wide men, Eagle and Makofo, seeing very little of the ball, and front men Duffy and Connell starved of service, the game was being dominated by Eastbourne. Walker was very instrumental in most of the home side`s play, making them tick, and belittling their position in the relegation zone.

The Sports were looking the more likely team to score again, and Spencer once again out muscled Kempson before bringing out a brilliant save from Kenny Arthur. Shortly after, Taylor tried a speculative lob from distance which Arthur gathered comfortably.

Eastbourne would be the happier outfit at half time, having enjoyed the greater possession and dictated the play after the first ten minutes.

Half Time : Eastbourne 1 Grimsby Town 1

Immediately from the restart, Ethan Strevett had a weak shot collected by Arthur, as the second half began more openly and the Mariners tried to match their opponents.

Makofo won a free kick, for which Jenkins was shown a yellow card, but Rob Eagle`s set piece drifted over the bar. Then Duffy had a half chance, volleying over from Connell`s cross whilst under pressure from a defender.

Nevertheless, there was still a lack of urgency about Town`s play and they didn`t get in enough tackles in central areas, and so were allowing the hosts to control the midfield. Just before the hour mark, Woods took off the ineffective Makofo and Steve Watt entered the fray at right back, with Bore pushing forward. Now in his more customary role, Bore crossed from the right and Duffy headed down to Eagle who should have steadied himself, but instead rushed his shot which cleared the bar.

Eastbourne would not give up, and nobody would deny them their second goal which arrived in the 62nd minute. Walker collected a pass from Spencer on the right hand side of the box, and skipped past Wood before firing low across Arthur and into the net.

Mark Hudson then replaced Sinclair, and at last Grimsby stepped up a gear. Bore and Watt combined to set up Connell, whose shot brought a super save from Banks for a corner to Town. A second corner was cleared only as far as Cummins and his shot from 20 yards went wide.

Taylor almost got onto the end of a long punt by his keeper, before Banks was largely responsible for Grimsby`s equaliser. He came out beyond the penalty spot to claim a cross, which he was never going to reach. The ball was headed back into the centre by Kempson for Connell to poke in from close range, and make it 2-2 after 75 minutes.

The impetus was now with the Mariners, although it was still there for either side to win. Bore was now seeing plenty of the ball, and most of Town`s forward momentum was coming through him down the right. One such move saw Hudson have a shot charged down.

With six minutes remaining, Grimsby scored their third goal following some excellent interplay. Hudson passed to Duffy and he played the ball over the Eastbourne back line. Connell read the pass superbly and dinked it over the advancing keeper, scoring his 22nd goal of the season.

The home side were obviously tiring in the final minutes and Grimsby were sharper at this stage of the match. Tom Corner, on for the last four minutes in place of Duffy, miscued his shot when a simple pass for Connell to complete a hat trick would have been the better option.

Eastbourne had a chance to level the match with almost the last kick of the game, after Watt needlessly conceded a free kick outside the Grimsby box. Fortunately, Taylor blazed his shot over and Grimsby came away with a much needed, but hard earned, three points.

Full Time : Eastbourne 2 Grimsby Town 3

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